Tag Archives: fittening

On the trail with Troubadour

Yesterday for the second time my eldest and I went for a trail ride together with the whole family, well almost anyway. Ok , let me explain. Me, Kim, Popeye, Sarah ( ponied), Diana, with kim aboard, and little Tru tagging along. So minus the  pony and mini it was the whole  herd family.

3 generations of horses and Pop! Kinda cute, huh? It really is.  A couple weeks ago we  took the crew out on a longer ride, a progression  in effect. The first time I did this just me and Pop leading Sarah and Tru  toddled along. Then KIm entered the picture and we took a little longer ride, then yesterday we took a nice  5 mile ride, lots of hills etc, cant get away from them here, and Tru was a trooper. He is happy to  hang between  us, Pop, sarah and I and Kim on Diana( Grandma), who usually is a ways back. At times he will trot or canter up to us but other times is happy in a cushion of  family.  We stop after a good climb to rest  him and allow him to  go to sarah if he wants. Not much of a puddle drinker yet.

He is a pisser, when he gets tired and  fussy he begins to get studdish. He will usually  go to grandma and  attempt a mount from behind, as she walks along.

How they put up with him all day, I have no idea! The measure of control they use to  TELL him NO is amazing to see. Just enough to get it across with out crushing his spirit!

We all have Savvy strings attached to our saddles for  any reason. I asked Kim to have her’s on her wrist and  begin  to incorporate a savvy trial ride lesson.

Timing is everything! But as the little one mounts , she swings string to the rear over D’s butt and if he is in the way , Oh well! A giant bug was bothering D and its Kims job to  protect her  herd of 2.

It worked. To hear kim say , Got him! and chuckle was humorous. Its a bit uncomfortable to  be riding along and have a little toughy try to mount , in play, but still, the horse you are riding. Time for trail ediquette!

As Kim heads off to college and kids back to school my timeto get this done with the whol family will dwindle but I intend to  get them out thru fall. Pop is a great solid presence for Sarah and Tru.

I can continue to thwart off the mounting attemps( back off dude), from Pops back with end of  pony line. Multii tasking 101!

More antics to follow, stay tuned.


The intrinsic value of ground schooling over fences , and more!

I concider this a follow up and maybe a conclusion to my ‘The Building of Arnold” post.

This will be a timeline chat of  progress made, Goals achieved , and  new horizons  seen.

As religiously as I could I built up Popeyes hind end with online hill work, and ridden hills on trails and in my hill field. By the time I got to a great trail ride  mid/late August, as a pre ride for a hunter pace I was setting with a local riding club I had a horse. He was so spot on in his physical readiness it was awesome.

I guess I should note I had my Sarah in tow (ponied), for  a good ride.

As we were moving along both horses were very clearly enjoying the ride.  Pop was ready to go . Sarah was playing  at the end of her lead line. Talk about multi tasking!

We had many opportunities to canter along and guess what… we had a left lead as a matter of choice! This was my goal with this fittening was to develope the hind end enough to support a left lead.

Every time Pop chose to canter off he chose his left lead! How cool is that. This was a sure sign I was on the right track with all I had done leading up to and including the fittening program.

Fast forward to October.  I had begun to recover after Irene and find my way back to where we left off.  I was on a call with a horse group I belong to ” The Horseman’s Jingle”,  I mentioned  I was still feeling a bit lost in direction going into winter with my horses. A suggestion(reminder), was made that when out doors was not an option indoor play could include adding jumps, ground rails , Caveletti’s, to continue the building/ hind end strengthening  process. I was concerned about loosing what I had gained.

I took the thought and ran with it. I had fun with a variety of ground covers, rails to barrels. Trotting and cantering and landing in a forward flow. It should be noted I did not do this every day it was incorporated into a fittening program as one more thing to check off per week, including days off and/or massage days.

A few days ago I made a (re) discovery….You see in my youth I used to be around a lot of high quality jumping horses . I saw the schooling etc and saw some amazing horse and riders  perform. I knew the thinking behind the practice jumps . Not  just at the shows but  in the lesson arenas etc.

That my friends was a different life :) BUT I could draw on it even now.

Fast forward to current. I was doing ground rails etc which worked well but especially for Pop seemed to not require much of him. It wasn’t  stimulating enough to make him really use himself. I found them boring too! This  refreshed idea was exactly what we needed. So enter variety of ground poles, low caveletti’s, barrells etc. Diversity!

Then my discovery of spreads…. this is a key factor for what both my horses need.

I had my barrels set up and used rails on either side to stop them form rolling.  For what ever reason they had been moved away from the base, maybe 8″ or so and not in straight order.

I had pop doing traveling circles and intermingling what ever was in his way he needed to negotiate, (Think to his feet).

He approached the barrels and what I saw made me very excited.

** Not just lift but stretch. Hmmm! how interesting!

I proceeded with this excersize with sarah who really needed to work on front end stretch and reach. She is super athletic but tended to land in a heap. This is where I saw huge possibilities. I set the rails up at a distance from the base.

In the end of out first session we had lift and an amazing beginning process of  opening her shoulders and  reaching forward and down in her neck. I requested on the landing of both horses that they  flow forward and take a few stride of canter before rest. Think of what this does for back and top line folks….

The following time I took Pop down to explore this rediscovered way to develop whole body coordination, I again moved the rails out and developed the arch needed to achieve  stretch and reach.

Something seemed to be missing for Pop. Towards the end of our session Pop showed me the answer. He needed to be reminded he had a hind end that needed to complete the excersize.  He landed a couple times with a hind leg in stride between the barrells and the landing rail. Hmm? How interesting! We need to connect the dots!

Next time around I asked with more purpose and when he took off he had great lift, stretch and upon landing truly sucked up his core and brought his hind end under him to clear the landing rail and then flow fwd to a nice few canter stride. Awesome to see. Full connection from front to hind.

I highly recommend being able to SEE your horses, ponies, jump little fences, nothing huge needed. Combine spreads and the plastic jump blocks work really well flat out for a low ground cover to add a great looking stretch and reach.

They have so much to show if we just listen with our eyes! They will tell us if its too much too soon, not enough, helpful, scary. But we need to be willing to let them have a say. Maybe a little less MAKE them and a little more ASK them .

Not just jump or school because we want the end result…ribbons!!! how many horse do you know in any equine  area of performance who have been ruined  because of over use, and in many cases too young, too soon.

You should all know that the time I spent doing the jumping was all of about 20 mins of an 1.15 hrs  time. I spent most of my time playing looking for quality gait work, and softening rib cages, and of course working the Glutes online.  Circles, sideways, leg yields , shoulder in and haunches in. And never forget chill time!

Its fun , stimulating, sparks a playful side in both “H Factors”.

Hope this was helpful ….  took me some time to condence it and find out how to put it into words. Sometimes you just have to be there.

So in closing the post on “The building of Arnold/ Intrinsic value…, what do i have?

1) Left canter lead upon request online and ridden. though the ridden is not solidly developed it is there and Amen for that!

2) A new area in my conditioning regime especially through winter.

3)Another way to connect front end and hind .

4) spreads either on ground or in a jump= a different stretch.

5) happy, fit horses!

6) A great outlook for goals and progress through winter.